The Planning Survey 16 is based on findings from BARC’s major annual survey of planning and budgeting software users. In total, 1,245 people responded to this year’s survey with 978 answering a series of detailed questions about their usage of a named planning and budgeting product. Altogether, the Planning Survey analyses 13 products in detail. The Planning Survey provides a detailed quantitative analysis of why customers buy planning tools, what they use them for and how successful they are.

Excel still the tool of choice in many companies for budgeting and planning

In many businesses, especially laggard companies, Microsoft Excel is still the tool of choice to support planning processes. Specialized planning products and Excel are each used separately or in combination for planning in 74 percent of companies. Other non-specialist software products follow some distance behind.

52 percent of survey respondents use specialist planning software to support their planning processes. These companies have recognized the added value specialized planning software can provide with functionality to efficiently support and improve planning processes. However, 33 percent still use Excel spreadsheets without an underlying database or specific planning functionality as their principal planning product.

Best-in-Class companies far more likely to use specialist software

More than 80 percent of best-in-class companies use specialist planning and budgeting software, whereas 40 percent of laggards continue with Excel. Just 48 percent of laggards use specialist planning software as their primary planning product.

Something we often find in consulting projects is that the choice of software product for planning often reflects a company’s general level of appreciation for the importance of planning. While budgeting is an essential element of management control to align operational business with corporate strategic objectives for many best-in-class companies, it is often regarded as a chore that has to be done at least once a year in laggard companies.

As the following infographic shows, problems, dissatisfaction and a low level of achievement of business benefits are among the inevitable consequences of using Excel as a budgeting and planning product in many companies.


What budgeting and planning tools are used by companies and what kind of benefits they gain compared to Excel


For more information visit the Planning Survey web page.